Maryland’s House of Delegates Passes Controversial ‘End of Life Option Act’

The “End of Life Option Act” passed in Maryland’s House of Delegates 74 to 66 after an hour-long emotional debate Thursday. The bill would allow terminally ill adults in Maryland to obtain a prescription that would allow them to end their own lives.

According to The Baltimore Sun, Thursday was the “fourth attempt to pass the bill; it [had] failed in three past General Assembly sessions.”

Fast Facts About ‘End of Life Option Act’

  • It gives terminally ill Marylanders with a diagnosis of six months to live the option of obtaining a prescription from a doctor allowing the patient to take life-ending drugs.
  • Patients need to be at least 18 years old and they’d need to ask for the prescription once in writing, once with a witness, and they’d need to be capable of taking the medicine themselves.

Read the bill in full below.

End of Life Option Act – Maryland House Bill from Deirdre Byrne

The Baltimore Sun has a comprehensive explainer article for more fast facts about the bill.

Controversy Surrounds “End of Life Option Act”

According to a recent Goucher Poll, 62 percent of Marylanders said they would support an “aid in dying” bill, compared to 31 percent of Marylanders who said they oppose it.

WJZ-13 in Baltimore has been covering the opposition to the bill and the support of the bill (a couple of weeks ago NPR’s retired radio host Diane Rehm gave testimony in support of the bill after seeing her husband suffer from Parkinson’s Disease.

Delegate Eric Luedtke Offers Emotional Speech in Support of Bill

During Thursday’s debate Del. Eric Luedtke (D), who represents District 14 in Montgomery County, offered an emotional speech in support of the bill, which initially he opposed.

“I think this bill raises some pretty deep moral questions and for me, it’s been a very personal issue,” said Luedtke.

Luedtke said that three of his family members have tried taking their own lives — he’s since gotten an “anti-suicide tattoo” to honor these family members.

“I despise suicide, so for many years I opposed this bill,” Luedtke said.

It wasn’t until Luedtke’s mother was diagnosed with stage IIIB esophageal cancer in 2014. Luedke said he watched his mother go through treatment and chemotherapy and she seemed to be recovering. However, after learning that her cancer returned, Luedke said his mother made a “decision not to seek further treatment.”

Luedke choked up speaking about his mother’s experience.

“As it came to the end we did everything we could to support her, to be there for her emotionally, physically. We watched as, despite the best efforts of her doctors, the pain became unmanageable. She did not die free of pain, she died in extraordinary pain,” said Luedke.

Luedke said his family watched their mother’s body deteriorate, as she couldn’t swallow solid food and she lost her ability to walk. The pain became so unbearable for Luedke’s mother that one morning she walked into the kitchen and tried to drink a bottle of liquid morphine to try and end her life.

After taking his mother to the hospital, the doctor told Luedke that the amount of morphine in the bottle wouldn’t be fatal. Luedke recalled the doctor telling him if his mother tried doing this again not to bring her to the hospital.

“It’s so close to the end,” Luedke recalled the doctor saying. A day after this, Luedke said his mother went into a coma and died.

Because of this personal instance, Luedke changed his opinion on assisted suicide, and he said that he believes this bill “is the government taking its finger off the scales.”

What’s Next for End of Life Option Act?

Now, Sen. William Smith (D), who sponsored the legislation, is set to bring it forth for a vote in the Senate. According to the Washington Post, Smith watched the delate’s vote and he expects that the Senate’s vote will also be close.

If the bill passes in the Senate, it would go to Gov. Larry Hogan to sign it into law (or not sign it and allow it to become a law) or veto it.

The Washington Post reports that in 2014, Hogan, a Catholic, “told a Catholic publication that doctors should save lives, not terminate them.” However, since then The Post says that Hogan “has since said he would look at any aid-in-dying bill carefully, and understands both sides of the issue.”

Debate From the Floor Over ‘End of Life Option Act’

William Ford, a staff writer for the Washington Informer, live-tweeted some of the debate in Annapolis. Check out his videos below.

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Deirdre Byrne

About Deirdre Byrne

Deirdre Byrne is a social media coordinator for Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at dbyrne@mymcmedia.org or on twitter at @DeirdreByrneMCM.

Comments

One Response to “Maryland’s House of Delegates Passes Controversial ‘End of Life Option Act’”

  1. Avatar
    On March 9, 2019 at 12:54 pm responded with... #

    ELEVEN CATEGORIES OF WRONGFUL DEATHS
    An easy read…

    We have a large body of work to examine and You can fill in the blanks from the Oregon stats that 1/3 changed their mind and did not use the lethal script. It follows that 1/3 of the balance 66% also changed their mind but were forced to satisfy the facilitators. That is 20% or about 1 in 5 were likely euthanized after changing their minds.

    ‘Professor Theo Boer: “And the pressure is not just from patients: ‘In some instances there is pressure from the family.’ Asked to specify a figure from the 4,000 case files that have crossed his desk, Boer replies: ‘It’s hard to say, but at a rough estimate I would say the family is a factor with one in five patients. The doctor doesn’t want to put it in the dossier; you need to read between the lines. Sometimes it’s the family who go to the doctor. Other times it’s the patient saying they don’t want their family to suffer. And you hear anecdotally of families saying: “Mum, there’s always euthanasia”.’

    And in the same article Ruben van Coevorden, who has a medical practice in Amsterdam’s Buitenveldert district, says that he believes Boer’s figure of one in five is ‘realistic’.
    Fabian Stahle …




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